Kansas lawmakers have abandoned an effort to force Secretary of State Kris Kobach to pay out of his own pocket the costs of being held in contempt of court. The decision ended a looming showdown between Kobach and the Legislature over who is on the hook financially. Kobach was dressed down by a federal judge during a civil trial over voter rights and ordered to pay attorney fees for the plaintiffs in the case. The Legislature’s decision to drop the effort means Kobach will be able to use state money to pay any fines stemming from being found in contempt. During negotiations over the state budget, lawmakers on Tuesday removed a prohibition on using state money to pay for contempt fines or defend himself against contempt. The House had approved the rule last week. Lawmakers negotiating a final deal on the budget removed the prohibition after a letter from Kobach’s office to top Republicans contending the ban would be illegal became public.
Rep. Troy Waymaster, a Bunker Hill Republican who chairs the House’s budget committee, said the provision was generating “a lot of communication with one particular executive office… you know who I’m talking about.”
“So we just felt it would probably be best to go ahead and remove that item, even though it did pass with more than 100 votes on the House floor. We made our statement,” Waymaster said.
A spokesman for Kobach didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.